FSANZ calls for feedback on changes to the Food Code

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 6th August 2008

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today invited individuals and organisations with an interest in food regulation to comment on a number of possible changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.This Code contains food standards (regulations) that set out requirements for food businesses that wish to sell food in Australia and New Zealand, covering the content, labelling and handling of food products.

FSANZ is looking at a number of changes to these requirements, including regulatory measures for raw (unpasteurised) milk products, approval of two genetically modified foods and a review of the minimum age for labelling of foods for infants.

Primary production and processing requirements for raw milk products (Australia only) Proposal P1007 – Discussion Paper

Milk and milk products cannot be sold in Australia unless they are derived from milk that has been subjected to a heat treatment, such as pasteurisation. This requirement has successfully protected consumers from unsafe microorganisms in milk products for decades. Australia’s dairy industry is a world leader in food safety. ‘Raw’ milk products, such as cheeses, are made from milk that has not been heat treated. While there are no general permissions for raw milk products, in specific situations they may be approved for sale if they can be produced safely.

FSANZ is proposing a category framework approach to assess the safety of raw milk products, assigning products to categories according to their potential to adversely affect human health.

Maximum residue limits (Australia only) Proposal M1002 – Assessment

FSANZ protects public health and safety by ensuring that any potential chemical residues in food are within appropriate safety limits. FSANZ supports industry and compliance agencies by maintaining current maximum residue limits (MRLs) in the Code. FSANZ has determined that the proposed variations to MRLs in the Code do not present any public health and safety concerns.

Food derived from glyphosate-tolerant cotton event GHB614 – Application A614 Draft Assessment

Bayer CropScience has asked FSANZ to approve food derived from genetically modified (GM) cotton line GHB614, which is tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate. All GM foods must undergo a pre-market safety assessment by FSANZ before they can be sold in Australia and New Zealand. Cotton line GHB614 has been developed for cultivation in major cotton producing countries worldwide, including eventually in Australia. Products such as cottonseed oil and linters may enter the food chain via locally produced and imported cotton derivatives.

Food derived from insect-protected cotton line COT67B – Application A615 Draft Assessment

Syngenta Seeds Pty Ltd has requested an amendment to the Food Standards Code to permit the sale and use of food derived from a new genetically modified (GM) variety of cotton, COT67B. This cotton variety has been genetically modified to be protected against feeding damage caused by the larvae of certain insect pest species . FSANZ will only approve a new GM food if it is as safe and as nutritious as its non-GM counterpart. We have identified no public health and safety concerns during our safety assessment of this cotton and propose to approve the sale of food derived from it.

Minimum age labelling of infant food – Proposal P274 Preliminary Final Assessment

At present, the Food Standards Code permits infant foods to be labelled as suitable from four months of age. However, the infant feeding guidelines in Australia and New Zealand now both recommend the introduction of solid foods at ‘around 6 months’. Therefore, FSANZ is proposing that the minimum age permitted for labelling of infant foods be amended to ‘around 6 months’ to provide consistency with the infant feeding guidelines.

The closing dates for submissions are:

Maximum residue limits – Wednesday 3 September 2008
All other issues – Wednesday 17 September 2008

FSANZ welcomes public comment from industry, public health professionals, government agencies and consumers. Details of the applications above can be found on www.foodstandards.gov.au/standardsdevelopment/documentsforpublicco868.cfm.